Daniel Stone

Stories by Daniel Stone

  • Wait! Roland Burris To Withhold Vote Until He Gets What He Wants, Too

    After Joe Lieberman laid down on the train track and actually made the train stop this week, several of other Democratic senators have taken license to threaten to withhold their vote if Harry Reid doesn’t give them what they want. Earlier this week, Sen. Roland Burris went to the floor with an impassioned speech, threatening a "no" vote unless Reid put back in something resembling a single-payer or public option. "My colleagues may have forged a compromise bill that can achieve the sixty votes that will be needed for it to pass, but until this bill addresses cost, competition, and accountability in a meaningful way—it will not win mine," he said from the lectern....
  • Obama's Most Creative Speech Yet

    One of the greatest things about being president is the ability to paint broad strokes. The man in charge can usually get by with expounding large themes like “vision” or “hope” or the “challenge of humanity.” Less visible executive staffers are the ones who sort out particulars of a new policy or diplomatic agreement after the motorcade departs.But that won’t cut it for President Obama when he speaks to delegates Friday at the U.N.-sponsored climate conference in Copenhagen. When Obama agreed to attend the negotiations last month, he planned his speech to be the icing on an otherwise bland cake. Or, at the most, give one final push to an agreement hammered out by delegates. That, however, was before talks nearly deteriorated this week, hitting a stalemate just days before finishing. (Large countries have agreed only to small steps, while small countries refuse to accept anything less than giant leaps.) The result is an Obama forced to transform rather dramatically from America’s...
  • Our Political Predictions for 2010

    Over at NEWSWEEK’s 2010 project, we’ve been recapping the decade of the aughts—a formative pack of years if there ever was one. Today, though, we take a look forward and offer our 10 political predictions for next year, and the decade that will follow. Things like the fate of Sarah Palin, the outlook for gay rights, and Nancy Pelosi's hold on the House in 2010. Here’s the full list. For our reasoning behind each (and for more predictions in the tech and business worlds) visit the politics page of the 2010 experience here.10. After a messy primary between Kay Bailey Hutchison and Rick Perry, Democrat (and Houston Mayor) Bill White will win the Texas governor’s mansion.9. Obama will do nothing on gay rights, wary of giving ammo to already fired-up conservatives during an election year.8. Reeling from battling cancer, Ruth Bader Ginsberg will retire from the Supreme Court. Our suspected replacement? Seventh circuit Judge Diane Wood.7. Aftrer becoming a symbol of corporate greed...
  • Climate Talks Heat Up as Activists Erupt

    Last week, delegates in Copenhagen were concerned that the leaking of an unfair climate-mitigation proposal would cause a rift between rich and poor countries and derail talks. Today increased tension brought negotiations even closer to the brink.With the end of the conference just two days away, thousands of activists and credentialed advocates turned up the heat, storming Copenhagen's Bella Center, the venue hosting the talks, to protest the lack of a foreseeable agreement between top emitters by the week's end. Conference organizers went into scramble mode, cracking down with something resembling martial law. Representatives from NGOs had credentials revoked midday Wednesday and were told they no longer had access to conference events. "We have sat down in front of the U.N. sign in the registration area despite instruction not to," one NGO spokesperson told NEWSWEEK. Another source inside the building described the scene as "incredibly tense" and...
  • Obama Calls Insulation 'Sexy' -- But Is It?

    President Obama took his green jobs message on the road this morning, to Alexandria, Va., where he spoke at a Home Depot. Why? To underscore the benefits of green jobs. White House aids furiously curated the scene so that Obama could speak in front of a wall of heating and insulation products with strategically placed signs saying “tax credit eligible.” Obama also used the venue for some good humored fun, telling reporters that the store would be good for Christmas shopping—he wanted to get Energy Secretary Steven Chu a few million energy- efficient light bulbs and Press Secretary Robert Gibbs something to prevent leaks.Obama took plenty of veiled shots at critics, arguing that the choice between saving the economy and working to save the planet was in fact a false choice. “With the debate that’s going on about climate change right now, a lot of people say we can’t afford to deal with these emissions to the environment. But the fact of the matter is, energy efficiency is a perfect...
  • U.S. vs. China: The Rest Is Just Details

    To recap thus far, the U.S. and China have been staring squarely at each other for the better part of this year, vowing not to blink until the other does. Both are large economies, of course, but want very different things out of any deal that gets inked in Copenhagen. U.S. negotiators seek emissions cuts at a slower than usual pace, with tightly focused obligations to fund mitigation in developing countries. Despite being a large economy, China is classified as one of those developing countries that have won so much sympathy, and will agree to cuts only if developed countries make it worth its while.Diplomacy usually happens on paper or in low-level circles, so it’s rare to see fireworks among senior officials. But late Friday, tension boiled over. In a briefing with Vice Foreign Minister He Yafei of China, David Corn of Mother Jones informed the Chinese leader that Todd Stern, top negotiator for the U.S., had said two days earlier that he couldn’t imagine U.S. money going to China...
  • Petraeus Recommends Newsweek to Senate Committee

    While testifying on Capitol Hill yesterday, former Iraq commander Gen. David Petraeus, who now heads U.S. Central Command, had some stern advice for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Since the Taliban has been disrupted in 2001, many of its members have dispersed over new areas in Afghanistan and in Pakistan. But between the two, it's reasonable that the U.S. focus more effort in Afghanistan, primarily because “we can go in those areas,” he told them. Petraeus then pointed toward some required reading on the topic that surprised us pleasantly: the pages of NEWSWEEK. Here’s the exchange with Delaware Sen. Ted Kaufman:...
  • Will Obama Be Undercut By Republicans in Copenhagen? Probably Not.

    A handful of Republicans are finalizing plans to arrive in Copenhagen at the beginning of next week when the talks take on a level of seriousness in their final stretch. Why? To paraphrase their motivation, they hope to ally with other countries that might also doubt the gravity of climate change in a way of countering—one report called it "undermining"—Obama’s message of urgency he’ll deliver in his speech on the final day. Among them are climate-change skeptics Sen. James Inhofe, Rep. Joe Barton, Rep. James Sensenbrenner, and Rep. Darrell Issa, all of whom plan to attend negotiating sessions with plans to poke holes in the science and argue that now, in the midst of a global recession, is not the time to make industrial or industrializing countries rearrange their economies.They’re likely to find some allies, but little overall influence. Delegations from 192 countries are attending the talks, along with 5,000 journalists and thousands of looky-loos from NGOs and...
  • The Bumpy Road to Middle Ground in Copenhagen

    When it first leaked yesterday afternoon, the contents of the secret "Danish text" seemed scandalous. The draft proposal—drawn up in collaboration with several developed countries including Denmark, the U.K., and the U.S.—outlined a power play that would give them considerably more power to regulate global emissions than would be granted to developing countries, such as China, India, and a host of small nations in Africa or Latin America. Those small players argued that this was a prime example of the big guys almost pulling a fast one. But Denmark, which drafted the text, sheepishly claimed that it was just one proposal of many leaked too early, and that it was far from being ready for widespread, and certainly not public, review.Fortunately for both sides, the whole episode will be archived in history right alongside all the insignificant second days of other large international conferences. It’s not the text that matters so much; some reports have even alleged that the...
  • The ‘Danish Text’ Disrupts Copenhagen: What You Need to Know

    You might call it a modest setback to the climate talks. Or you might call it the puncturing of a lung in Copenhagen that has left negotiations wheezing on the floor.On day two of the two-week conference, attention focused late in the day on what’s been dubbed the Danish Text, a document devised by several parties—including Denmark, the U.K., and the U.S.—that would hand most regulatory control to rich nations and would replace the U.N. as arbiter of global cuts with the World Bank’s more financially minded eye. Small players at the table, specifically the developing nations that have sought to pin large countries to the mat on making cuts, interpret the Danish proposal as a deeply troubling attempt by the biggest emitters to maintain control over their emissions…and the rest of the world's.The proposal (document here) is essentially a reversal of the main principle of the Kyoto Protocol, which provided that large countries make sweeping steps to curb their emissions, but excludes...
  • Climategate Hullabaloo at Copenhagen Misses Larger Point

    On the streets of Copenhagen, Keith Schneider of Grist offers a fairly candid look at how the release of those e-mails at the Climate Research Unit in England are affecting the talks this week in Denmark. Those who allege conspiracy see the hacked messages as a smoking gun after years of alarm about rising temperatures. Such assumptions are most hurtful, Schneider argues, to the smaller countries at the bargaining table, some of which are already seeing the effects of climate change and aren't debating anymore whether it exists. On the city's metro, Schneider meets a man named Isakwisa Mwamukonda, a ranking government leader from Tanzania, who asked him if he ever heard of Mount Kilimanjaro. Schneider signaled he had. “The ice is melting," said Mwamukonda. "It won’t be there in a few years. The animals are dying from drought. Our land is changing. How can anybody doubt that climate change is real?”Heart-wrenching, perhaps, but that won't stop the e-mails...
  • EPA Ruling Steps Up Pressure on Congress

    Science, and especially government science, isn’t supposed to be political, but it certainly can be strategic. So when the Environmental Protection Agency announced yesterday its latest findings—that greenhouse gasses threaten public health and the environment—it at first seemed an odd precursor to the bigger news on carbon and global climate happening this week in Copenhagen. Except this was no coincidence. Rather, it was a well-timed maneuver to boost the U.S.’s voice in Copenhagen, and more important, a stunningly effective way to pressure the Senate to get moving on climate legislation.On the eve of President Obama’s trip to speak in Denmark, the White House knew that the president’s plea for action would be anemic without even a modicum of commitment from the U.S., one of the world’s largest emitters. It would be ideal for Obama (and certainly appear more democratic) if Congress had already taken the reigns on domestic policy, but with that looking as unlikely as the polar...
  • Which Countries Are Missing From Copenhagen Talks?

    Climate change may be a global problem to confront, but the number of countries invited to the talks in Copenhagen this week—192—leaves out a few significant players that may be relevant to the discussions. Who are they, and why are they sitting this one out? The list of bench-warmers:The Vatican: The smallest internationally recognized country isn’t an official U.N. member, and with its influence over more than a billion Catholics, it doesn’t need to be. When it comes to climate, the Vatican isn’t a problem. Both Benedict XVI and his predecessor have taken environmental issues very seriously, even positioning the Vatican to be the first carbon-neutral country in the world. Impressive, yes, but even with peripheral participation in the conference, its small size precludes it from being a large part of any solution. Except maybe in one way: if the talks are headed for a stalemate, we may see negotiators turn to religion.Taiwan: Much of the world considers Taiwan an independent...
  • Five Things to Watch at U.N. Climate Conference in Copenhagen

    After a year of expectation, today officially kicks off the international climate conference known as COP15 in Denmark. The name comes from an acronym for Conference of Parties, the highest and most official assembly of United Nations member nations—192 in total. All will convene in Copenhagen this week and next to hammer out agreements on the risks posed by climate change and the cuts in greenhouse gasses necessary to mitigate them.Most countries are onboard to reach an accord, but this week will be the first time negotiators from the biggest polluting countries—U.S., China, and India—meet publicly to discuss sweeping cuts. The expectations for the conference have oscillated wildly over the past two months, but it’s clear that with so many global leaders involved, both the political and scientific stakes are high. Here’s a primer on five of the biggest issues coming out of Copenhagen:1) The political agreement. After negotiators gave up on a legally binding treaty this fall, Danish...
  • In Reelection Fight, Should Reid Speak Softly, Or Carry a Big Stick?

    The holiday season may signify the end of the year, but for Sen. Harry Reid, it marks the beginning of a long and enduring fight he’ll be waging into next November. New poll numbers this morning from a Mason-Dixon Poll show the Senate majority leader with a dangerously low state approval rating of just 38 percent. In potential match-ups with both candidates currently vying for the GOP nomination, Reid loses to both.It would be regular horse-race politics in advance of an election year. Except with Reid, the added layer of complexity is his role as the senate’s presiding member. And more specifically, his role as broker of the health-care debate and the climate legislation that will come next. During an election year, most pols, especially ones entering a tough race, hunker down and work on their image. They toe the line of their state’s public opinion. They sit for interviews that make them glow, and they plant op-eds on populist issues that paint them on the right side of history....
  • Competing Job Summits Full of Pomp, Little Consequence

    President Obama will deliver the opening remarks this afternoon at the White House Jobs and Economic Growth Forum, a highly publicized and glitzy assembly of top administration officials and business leaders. Its purpose, according to the White House, is to create “an opportunity for the president and the economic team to hear from some of the leading CEOs, small business owners, labor leaders, nonprofit heads, and thinkers about ideas for continuing to grow the economy and put Americans back to work.”A valid, and on its face, valiant pursuit. But as my colleague Robert Samuelson points out today on Newsweek.com and in the pages of The Washington Post, the effectiveness of the meeting may be severely limited. Despite mounds of valuable advice from business leaders, Obama’s hands are tied when it comes to finding employment for the growing number of unemployed Americans for the sole reason that job creation is usually, and most effectively, the work of the private sector. “Companies,...
  • Pelosi's Penchant for Fancy Things

    Tip of the hat to Politico’s Jake Sherman (also former NEWSWEEK D.C. bureau intern) for some digging that shows Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s affinity for things of fancy. Since June, according to House expenditure reports, Pelosi and her staff have spent tens of thousands of dollars on personal office expenses, including $30,000 on food-and-beverage costs, $2,700 on bottled water, and $3,000 on fresh flowers in her office.All big numbers, to be sure. But let’s focus for a moment on the flowers, which seem the most expendable item. On its face, three grand sounds like considerable dough, especially for something as disposable as fresh flowers. But is it really much? Pelosi’s Capitol Hill office isn’t your average dentist’s waiting room. She has a massive setup in the Capitol with dozens and dozens of staffers. Broken up over four months, that’s really just about $750 per month, or $25 a day, which is barely the cost of lunch for two in the House cafeteria, if you skip dessert. Your...
  • Gavin Newsom Gets Testy Facing Unknown Future

    Since he dropped out of the California governor’s race last month, where has San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom been? That’s exactly what local TV news reporter Hank Plante asked the mayor last week during an interview—one of the few he has given over the past month. Newsom answered with the amount of San Francisco’s current deficit—$522 million—as reason for having ducked out of public view. But Plante wasn’t buying it. He challenged Newsom on a staff shake-up, including several resignations from senior staff. Then there were questions about an off-the-radar weekend getaway Newsom took to Hawaii without telling key members of his staff. And then about why he had missed so many important public appearances. By the time Plante got around to asking about the deficit, a clearly agitated Newsom was done being patient. Leaving the room, he shook his head and grinned at the camera, declaring “off the record” how "amazingly disappointed" he was in the questioning.In Newsom’s case,...
  • NEWSWEEK Explains Thinking Behind Palin Cover

    As Sarah Palin’s book tour kicked off this morning, the debate continues to rage about what exactly she means for America and the Republican Party. This week’s NEWSWEEK takes a look at those questions, exploring the unique challenges posed by a would-be candidate both loved and loathed but almost nothing in between.Our choice of a cover image this week has also stirred the debate. Yesterday, NEWSWEEK Editor Jon Meacham responded to critics of the photo, explaining the magazine’s policy, which is, and has always been, to choose the most interesting image available to us to illustrate the theme of the cover.This morning, on the Today show, NEWSWEEK Managing Editor Daniel Klaidman further explained the editorial choice. “Since [Sarah Palin] has been on the national stage, there have been these questions about her gravitas and her seriousness. Sarah Palin has cultivated this image of a down-home, folksy, outdoorsy woman. And I'm not suggesting  it's not authentic, but there is...
  • Why the House Health Bill Probably Won’t Matter

    Judging from the scene on the House floor Saturday night, it was plainly obvious that something pivotal had just happened. The chamber’s passage of the Affordable Health Choices Act was the most substantial health reform passed since Medicare in 1965, and the bill’s razor-thin margin of victory, 220-215, gave a clear picture of just how close it was to failing. House Democrats filled the aisles to cheer the closing seconds of voting. Speaking to reporters afterward, Nancy Pelosi looked visibly moved. She said she “felt great,” and you could spot a tear running down her cheek.Pelosi may want to relish her victory, but her time to do so is limited. Following the House passage, Sen. Lindsey Graham declared that the bill would be “dead in the water” in the Senate. Hyperbole, perhaps, but his notion is right. Pelosi’s finely curated piece of legislation will receive a much colder reception on the other side of the Capitol. At best, it’s in for substantial compromise. More likely, though,...
  • Rep. Joseph Cao, the Sole Republican to Support Pelosi Health Bill

    House Minority Whip Eric Cantor promised Capitol Hill protesters on Friday that not one Republican would approve the Democrats' health-care bill. But Cantor's vow of unanimity slipped Saturday night when the final vote tally, 220 to 215 in support of the bill, revealed Rep. Anh (Joseph) Cao, a Republican from Louisiana, cast a yes vote. ...
  • High Anxiety as Leadership Scrambles for Last Health-Care Votes

    The partisan spread in the House would seem to give a clear indication of how Speaker Pelosi’s health-care vote will go down—or at least how she’d like it to. Democrats currently hold a 40-seat majority (258-218) over Republicans, which is sizable by historical standards. But as the House winds down its weekend debate of Pelosi’s brick of a bill, the vote won’t mirror the partisan spread. At least 20 conservative Democrats have already vowed to oppose it, and a growing yet unknown number say they’ll do the same. Would Pelosi open a vote on her own bill if it could actually fail?President Obama visited the Hill early Saturday to offer a pep talk to the Democratic caucus. According to an account of the speech reported by The Washington Post, he told Democrats that they would look back on this bill as their “finest moment in politics" and warned that even a no vote wouldn’t inoculate them from GOP attacks in next year’s elections.Who was the meeting meant to convince? Pennsylvania...
  • Why Creigh Deeds Lost Virginia

    With enough precincts reporting to make it official, Virginia Democratic candidate Creigh Deeds was handed a defeat Tuesday night, having lost his bid for governor by double digits. Of all the closely watched races of the day, it’s fair to say that the one in Virginia would have the most obvious outcome. Deeds trailed GOP opponent Bob McDonnell by an average of 10 points across several polls more than a week ago. Even after President Obama campaigned for him two weeks ago, the Democrat still couldn’t recover.Pundits have tried for weeks to tie the Deeds-McDonnell race to a larger national significance, specifically a coast-to-coast referendum on President Obama’s first year since his election. And understandably so—editors and TV producers like it when you can turn local news into national headlines. But that’s nothing compared to how much the Republican Party, which won two other state offices in Virginia on Tuesday, wanted to frame McDonnell’s win as a public, national rebuke of...
  • Gavin Newsom Calls it Quits, Succumbing to California Political Realities

    Earlier this month we took a close look at the structural support of San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom’s run for governor of California next year—a race with heavy implications for the future of the downtrodden state. What we found was that Newsom was severely close to running out of gas, having called in Bill (The Closer) Clinton before the race even got going. So Newsom’s announcement late Friday evening that he would be calling it quits was less than shocking, yet it still contained an element of surprise owing to the rather abrupt stunting of a career once considered on a steep upward path.Timed strategically with the Friday-evening news lull, Newsom blamed the decision on the clichéd reason for most political resignations. “With a young family and responsibilities at city hall, I have found it impossible to commit the time required to complete this effort the way it needs to—and should—be done,” he said in a statement. He also said the decision was best for the residents of San...